How to Go Solar If You Rent

Solar power is a clean and sustainable energy source that has the potential to significantly offset people’s utility costs. Solar PV (photovoltaic) project installations continue to increase every year; in fact, the U.S. hit 1 million total solar installations this year in 2016 and is projected to hit 2 million installs in just two more.

Going solar is also getting cheaper. The average price for a completed PV project has dropped by nearly 30% in the past 3 years alone.

If you look at solar the way we do and see it as a practical solution to sustainable energy, then that’s fantastic – but what if you don’t own a property or can’t install a system of your own? If you rent, there is way to reap the energy, economic, and environmental benefits of solar, and it’s called Community Distributed Generation – Community DG for short. Community DG refers to any off-site solar, small wind, or other clean energy project that benefits communities of people through net metering. Since we’re talking about solar, we can refer to Community DG as Community Solar – or Shared Solar –  for short.

Here’s an infographic on how it works:

There are three parties involved in Community Solar.

  1. Utility – companies that distribute electricity, such as Con Ed.
  2. Sponsor – the intermediary; the project developer, a private company, or other entity that manages the solar installation project and determines its contracts and fees.
  3. Member – you and anyone else who wants to go solar without installing an individually owned system.

A sponsor will organize membership and interfaces with utility. Let’s say you contractually agree with your sponsor to use 10% of the energy generated by the solar system for a monthly rate paid to your sponsor. The sponsor relays that information to your utility company, and then your utility company allocates 10% of the energy credits generated by your solar system to you. This is known as net metering.

For more details on how this works, visit the New York State Energy & Research Development Association (NYSERDA) page here: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Cleantech-and-Innovation/Power-Generation/Net-Metering-Interconnection

For more information on Community DG, check out this link here: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/media/NYSun/files/Contractor-Resources/Community-Distributed-Generation-Project-Developers.pdf

We’ve met a lot of people in the past few months who wanted to know how to go solar if they rent. We hope this cleared some things up, but of course, feel free to reach out to the Brooklyn SolarWorks team you have any questions.

As always – shine on!